Sunday, 24 August 2014

Naam / White Hills / Black Rainbows / The Flying Eyes - Desert Fest Split LP


Four bands for the price of one showcasing the best of Italy's Heavy Psych Sounds label.


Split releases are an interesting affair. The hope is that the each band's music will sit comfortably on such a format and compliment that of the other bands. When they work everyone's a winner – the musicians, label and especially us humble music consumers. For the music fan they're often a gateway or inroad into new sonic adventures. You buy the thing because it features one band and end up liking and investigating the other bands.

This four way split featuring acts on the Heavy Psych Sounds record label is a good example. Four bands – (Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows and The Flying Eyes), each having 2 songs to let us know what they're about. Or just the one in White Hills' case. Although already familiar with the work of Black Rainbows (click here for a review of their Holy Moon album), the other acts are new to me so we'll look at them first.

Naam open the proceedings with “Skyscraper (Ambient Remix)”. The bracketed part of the title will give you a clue to what this track is about. It feels like the calm before the storm, as if we're being broken in gently. It's not until their following track that we get a truer sense of what they're about. “Thickening Web” is infused with a dread and foreboding that the title suggests. Hypnotically repetitive, circling and building. More Krautrock than stoner-rock which comes as a surprise given the stylistic reputation of the label.

White Hills' sole track “They've Got Blood... Like You've Got Blood” is an eleven minute epic opening with with random oscillations, mariachi trumpet and angry voices before drums begin to swell the track into something grander. Again there's more drone than rock, hinting at a new direction or offshoot for the label perhaps. It's not until the eight and a half minute mark before the track takes an unexpected turn into Kraftwerk-influenced electronica. Expect the unexpected as the saying goes.

Next up are Black Rainbows with some altogether familiar hard-driving stoner-rock on “Viper Rock”. Guitar fuzzy, hoary rock god vocals. It's safe but good ground. It's not until the band's second offering that they show us what they're really capable of. “Minor Monster Galaxy Message” is a slower, more nuanced affair with some lovely delicate electric piano midway through.

It's left to The Flying Eyes to round off the album. Their first track “Golden Grey” has a stately grandeur about it, with guitars holding long high notes over the Eddie Vedder-esque vocals. They follow this up with “Evil Little Leslie”, (a nod the rotating speaker cabinet used on the vocal no doubt), which makes use of Hubert Sumlin's Spoonful riff. All in all this is a surprisingly varied and rewarding compilation. Keep your mind open and you'll end up liking at least one of the bands here more than you thought you would.


Click here for the Heavy Psych Sounds website.